Asked and Answered

The best of Asked and Answered: June 21

With Bob Labriola enjoying a summer break, we've gone through recent editions of Asked & Answered and selected a few memorable questions…and answers.

Bob returns to his normal schedule next week.

Let's get to it:

From May 3
Love Asked and Answered. My question: can Artie Burns cover Antonio Brown?

ANSWER: To put this into some context for those who may not be aware of your reference: the standard General Manager Kevin Colbert said the scouts use when evaluating college cornerbacks is to ask themselves the question: can (insert name here) cover Antonio Brown? "When we say cover Antonio, we always talk about that in our evaluations, but that's a difficult task for a lot of NFL cornerbacks," said Colbert. "We are usually just talking amongst ourselves when we say that. If they can cover who we think is the best (in the NFL), he is going to have a good chance (to succeed in the NFL). Whether they can or can't, we won't find out until we get them here, but I think beyond physical talents, mental makeup and confidence are huge." To answer the question: If Ben Roethlisberger is the quarterback, there's no chance. With Roethlisberger at quarterback, I've only ever seen Antonio Brown kind of covered once, and that was by Richard Sherman in a game during which the officials were allowing the defender to be handsy with the receiver in some areas of the field where that's usually a penalty. If Artie Burns can be competitive in that matchup as a rookie, I will have high hopes for his future as an NFL cornerback.

From May 3
In last Thursday's edition of Asked and Answered, you were asked a question about the four greatest defensive backs in Steelers history, and I noticed Donnie Shell was replaced by Darren Perry. I think Shell might be the most underrated Steelers player of all time. By the way, love your chats and the shows on

ANSWER: I'm going to make some attempt to explain myself, and so let's begin with the exact wording of the question. It was: "If you could go back through the Steelers' franchise history and pick four defensive backs, with no other changes to the defense, who would your choices be for which positions? Bonus question, who are your 'nickel' and 'dime' backs?" That was the question, and I took it to mean not that I was picking the four best defensive backs in franchise history, but a unit to add to the existing front seven personnel on this particular Steelers roster to help the franchise win its seventh Lombardi Trophy. So I was thinking in terms of a four-man unit, as opposed to the four best, and the guy who was selected over Donnie Shell was Troy Polamalu. In my mind, I was viewing Shell and Polamalu as guys who would be deployed in similar ways, while Perry is more of a pure centerfielder, a guy who was a productive playmaker while being cast in something of a complementary role. So it came down to Shell vs. Polamalu for me, and I went with Troy. Going with Shell wouldn't have been wrong, though, either.

From May 10
I've heard the Steelers drafted actor Ed O'Neill. If so, when? I looked it up and couldn't find anything. I did see they drafted a guy named John Goodman. Same guy?

ANSWER: Long before he was Al Bundy on television's "Married with Children," Ed O'Neill was a defensive lineman during his college days at Youngstown State, and the Steelers signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 1969. But alas, he was waived during training camp, maybe because he was unable to replicate Al Bundy's glory days at Polk High School, where the eventual shoe salesman once scored four touchdowns in a single game. John Goodman was a defensive lineman from Oklahoma, and he was the Steelers' second pick in the second round of the 1980 NFL Draft. Not the same guy who played Roseanne's husband in the television sitcom, however.

The final day of the 2016 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Thanks for keeping these real. I have enjoyed your insights while deployed for the last 11 months. Not looking for a shout-out, just very appreciative from me to you for your professional patience with Steelers Nation regarding some of our dumb questions. My dumb question: What do you wish one of us would ask you about the organization? What is the area you are bursting to share that none of us has figured out how to give you the platform to vent? Seriously … thank you for these. I'm sure they are a burden on you, but they are a buoy for us.

ANSWER: I appreciate the opportunity to inform/entertain Steelers fans, who by-and-large are passionate and informed about their favorite football team. And sometimes I simply turn the venting over to one of you (see below), because I respect a well-executed/humorous rant as much as anyone.

All right, people … For the love of God, can we just get all of the position change questions out of the way now so we don't have to read about them till the end of time? Yes, let's move Ryan Shazier to safety, rookie Travis Feeney to safety, Maurkice Pouncey to guard, Alejandro Villanueva to tight end, Martavis Bryant to cornerback, Lynn Swann to slot corner, Senquez Golson to outside corner, Carnell Lake to linebacker … Let's just stop it, people. Is it possible that you "position switch" knuckleheads know more about football than the Rooneys, Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, Todd Haley, Chuck Noll, and Bill Cowher? If so, then why are you still living in your mom's basement eating Hot Pockets and wondering who you're going to play in your fantasy football league? Please, can we move on?

ANSWER: I actually liked Hot Pockets myself, but I always seemed to burn my mouth on the filling. That's when I switched to cold pizza.

From May 24
When Antonio Brown was drafted back in 2010, do you recall there being forecasts about his greatness?

ANSWER: During Antonio Brown's first NFL training camp, there were flashes, certainly, but remember it also was the summer when a third-round pick named Emmanuel Sanders was trying to make an impression. When it came time to cut the roster to 53 at the end of the preseason, Bruce Arians, then the Steelers offensive coordinator, believed Brown was only a practice squad guy at that stage, but Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin had a different view, and they prevailed. The 2010 regular season opened with Tomlin pitting Sanders and Brown in a competition for one spot on the game day roster – "two dogs, one bone" was Tomlin's characterization of it – and by the time the playoffs rolled around at the end of the 2010 season, Brown already was making critical plays at significant moments to help the Steelers advance to Super Bowl XLV.

Steelers Nation: Submit your photo via Twitter using #SteelersPride.

From May 24
Being a die-hard Steelers fan since 1972, I have pictures of my Steelers man-cave and golf cart I'd like to share with fellow fans. How can I do this?

ANSWER: Instagram? Facebook?

From June 7
As a displaced Steelers fan, I was excited to see that this year the Steelers were playing both New York teams. Sadly I saw that both games were in Pittsburgh this year. When making the schedule, how does the NFL determine which team is home for non-divisional games?

ANSWER: In cross-conference matchups, teams face opponents once every four years and so the individual matchups are assigned on a home-and-home basis every eight years. As an example, the Steelers played in Dallas in 2004, the Cowboys visited Heinz Field in 2008, the Steelers played in Dallas in 2012, and the Cowboys are in Pittsburgh on Nov. 13. That would be how the game against the Giants was determined: Pittsburgh in New Jersey in 2004 and 2012, with the Giants in Pittsburgh in 2008 and on Dec. 4. When it involves matchups between teams in the same conference, there are two factors involved. Every year, each NFL team will play every team from a division within its own conference on a once-every-three-year rotation, and this year the AFC North teams all are playing the AFC East teams. In 2007, the Steelers played the Jets in New Jersey, in 2010 the game was in Pittsburgh, in 2013 it was in New Jersey, and so it's at Heinz Field on Oct. 9. The other factor involved in matchups between teams in the same conference is that two games on every team's schedule each year are determined by the previous season's standings. And these games match teams that finished in the same spots in their respective divisions. As an example, for 2016 the Steelers had been assigned a home game against the AFC West and a road game against the AFC South. Since the Steelers finished second in the AFC North in 2015, they will host AFC West second-place Kansas City and travel to AFC South second-place Indianapolis.

From June 7
Have the Steelers given thought to signing Johnny Manziel if he is cleared to play? He could be a valuable player with his versatility. He can play receiver, safety, running back. And be an emergency quarterback. He would be great running the Wildcat offense. Not to mention the possibility of playing special teams.

ANSWER: You are delusional. Please be careful crossing the street.

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